When I was asked to do a short web piece for throwback Thursday it took me a while to decide what to write about. There have been many notable captures over the years, as well as lots of special memories made whilst out on the bank, but after much deliberation and trawling through my hard drive I finally settled on the idea of reliving a short tale of when I caught my first UK 40lb carp.

It was around 2012 when I acquired a ticket for a 30-acre gravel pit in Chichester. The lake had just been set up as a new syndicate and the existing stock of around 10-12 original fish was topped up with around 100 stockies. The original fish were of course the reason to purchase a ticket, with a couple of these fish going over the magical 40lb barrier, with the pick of the bunch a beautiful scaly linear. I remember struggling to start with, as the venue was pretty weedy and at the time, I had never really fished anywhere quite so weedy, or so big to be honest!

After a few trips though, I finally caught one of the stockies on a chod rig cast to a showing fish, a tactic that proved to work very well on that lake, especially early spring. Bright yellow pineapple pop ups wanged out at showing fish saw plenty of carp landed, but most were the young naive stockies weighing up to around mid-twenties.


As the season progressed, I started to catch a bit more consistently and was now finding clear areas amongst the weed without issue and started to catch a few fish over bait too. A short break was then taken from angling for a few weeks, so I could enjoy a summer holiday with the Mrs, and when I returned, I had 2 nights angling allocated before I had to return to work. I can remember turning up early on the Friday morning and having a good wander around the lake, which happened to be nice and quiet too. After a couple of laps, I had decided on a swim known as The Point, which was about half-way down the road bank where I had seen several fish show close in whilst watching. Even whilst unloading the kit into the swim I saw a couple more shows and was full of confidence, especially as a couple of the shows were clearly not stockies!

The fish seemed to be showing over two different spots at around 30-40 yards range, so I decided to have one quick cast with a bare lead to see what they were showing over. Upon inspection it was clear that the fish were gorging on the natural food larder as they were showing over very short, fresh, bright green new weed growth that was literally crawling with life. I didn’t want to thrash the swim to a foam trying to find a clear area nearby, so I decided the best line of attack would be a solid PVA bag cast right on top of the fresh weed, exactly where the fish were feeding and showing. By using a solid bag, I could ensure that the hookbait would be presented perfectly and I was fishing within 3 casts, hopefully without spooking the fish that were present.

The standard size solid PVA bags were filled with a mixture of small pellets and the short supple 4” Trickster Heavy hooklink that was coupled with a super sharp size 8 Covert Mugga. My hook bait was a small piece of Peperami, that I had shaved the skin off and cut into a barrel to help it leak its delicious oily attraction. To boost things even further, the bag was loaded with good helping of fish oil. This would help me to identify if any fish were feeding over the bags from oil slicks popping up to the surface. Once the three bags were tied, it was just a simple case of casting them over the spots I had seen the fish show, before slackening everything off and sitting back to watch for the remainder of the day.


Things started well and a low twenty mirror soon slipped up to the solid bag in the low-lying weed approach, which boosted my confidence going into the night. The odd fish continued to show, and I went to bed full of hope, only to awake at first light feeling a little dejected that nothing had happened. I flicked the kettle on and once I had made a brew I sat at the front of the swim watching the water. Before too long I noticed a slick coming up over my left-hand rod, which was then followed by another slick over each of the other rods. The next two hours seemed like two days, as I watched the slicks constantly popping up over each of my bags, with the occasional carp show bang on the money too. Eventually, the inevitable happened and my left-hand rod burst in to life, signalling a fast take. I lifted into the fish, which had hit the surface quickly after the in-line lead had successfully dropped off on the take. The fish then proceeded to kite from left to right wallowing on the surface for the majority of the time, and as I drew it closer I could now tell it was a really big fish so waded out as far as I could with the net in preparation. A few more powerful lunges had my heart in my mouth, but eventually the fish rose up coughing water and went in to the waiting net first time of asking.

It was at this point that I peered down into the net and saw I had the ultimate prize laying beaten, and a rush of sheer elation swept over me. This was the fish I had joined the lake for, and she was finally mine and looking incredible!

There was only one other angler on the lake, who happened to be the owner around the opposite side along the woods bank. So, after securing the fish safely in a retainer I gave him a call to see if he could assist with the weighing and pictures. He came over to help immediately and we set about weighing the fish, which was a new lake record and personal best at 44lb 8oz, beating my previous PB by nearly 10lb! After a few shots on the bank I got back into the water with the magnificent fish and posed one last time before letting her swim off. The lake owner congratulated me and left me to it, and I just sat staring at the lake for a while trying to take it all in.


I knew straight away that this would now probably be my last session on the lake, so decided to stay one more night and celebrate with an Indian take away and a few cold beers. I was also rewarded with another three fish before I left the following day and it seemed a fitting end to my years campaign on the lake.

It was the first very weedy big pit I had fished and on reflection it taught me so much and has helped to lead me down the path I have taken in my angling today. For that reason, this will always remain a special capture to me; one that I look back at with great fondness. I believe this fish is now around 50lb and still going strong too…

Tom Oliver